Christmas Comes Early



Or at least it does if you're retailing online, according to search trends from Google. The UKs largest search engine reports that search volume for retail websites increased as much as 48% between August 2007 and January 2008. But what about this year with the gloomy economic outlook; can we expect a similar pattern?

The current economic climate may well be generating further feelings of uncertainty, but research indicates that online retailers might be better placed to weather the storm. According to IMRG research from July this year, retail ecommerce sales in the first half of 2008 increased 38% on the same period last year to £26.5 billion. Furthermore, online sales as a percentage of total retail spend are expected to increase from 15% at the end of 2007 to 20% at the end of 2008. The traditional drivers of online retail have been convenience and choice, but the current economic climate is expected to drive more sales online as shoppers use the internet to find a better deal. So despite tougher market conditions it looks like online retailers will take a larger share of total retail sales and may well see growth.

Given this trend towards online retail, how can you make the most of the Christmas opportunity? We have 5 top tips:

  1. Ensure all your products are included in your campaigns. If you've introduced new products into your range, then make sure they are included in your campaign to make the most of any seasonal increase in traffic. This is especially important for products that you think will be popular at Christmas. Including more targeted keywords in your campaign (as opposed to relying on a few generic terms) can also reduce your average CPC whilst increasing your coverage.
  2. Don't wait until December to capture Christmas sales. Ramp up now to take advantage of traffic growth in the run up to Christmas and be prepared to maintain your campaign activity until well into the New Year. Accelerating your paid activity could bring in more market share in the run up to Christmas and enable you to stay ahead of your competitors.
  3. Be prepared to increase your maximum CPCs at a time of increased online activity. As competition hots up in the run up to Christmas, CPCs can increase on competitive terms. If you are prepared to pay a higher CPC during this time you will capture the additional seasonal traffic and sales.
  4. Plan ahead and allocate sufficient budget to see you through the Christmas and New Year shopping period. For many retailers Christmas is the busiest time of year and if you don't allocate enough budget your campaign could cut out. Shopping doesn't stop at Christmas either; those looking for a bargain in the sales will only just be starting. 4.4 million people shopped online on Christmas Day last year – 269% more than in 2006 – and the 2 busiest days through the Christmas 2007 shopping period were Sunday December 2nd and December 26th (Boxing Day).
  5. Have seasonal offers, keywords and ad copy ready. This will attract Christmas shoppers and increase your click-through rate compared to non-seasonal ad text.

So if you're retailing online contact your Search Laboratory Account Manager today to get your campaign ready for Christmas.